Buenos Aires Trip Review
This is my first time posting on chowhound, please excuse any violation of rules spoken or otherwise.
I got some great tips from this forum for my trip to BsAs, so I wanted to pay back a bit and put in my own 2 cents.
Visited: 1 day in december, 3 in january
I'll start with empanadas:
El Sanjuanino (Recoleta location): looked nice and kitschy inside, but lots of tourists around and I wasn't impressed with the empanada (carne picante); pre-made and kept luke warm
La Cocina: a tiny joint in an office building gallery, shared seating with other restaurants lit by fluorescent lights; very busy with office workers and other busy people; better empanadas (carne picante and "picachu") but I wouldn't go out of the way for it; also pre-made
We chanced upon the third place while waiting for Sette Bacco to open (I was still on North American schedule), a tiny shop 2 doors down called Empanadas Buen Aguero. We were there around 7:30 and very possibly we were their first customer. It took 15 minutes, but our carne picante and verdura empandandas came fresh out of the oven piping hot, and beautifully wrapped like a gift package in floral paper. The carne picante was actually a little picante, perfectly seasoned and spiced, encased in an excellent crust. Our first empanadas, but as we would soon learn, leagues above the others.
Speaking of Sette Bacco, what a fantastic dinner! Tons of interesting items on the menu that were definitely not standard (american) italian fare. The pizza was a flatbread that happened to have some great toppings (super fresh arugula, crispy garlic and house smoked bacon); not what I consider pizza but i liked it. Carpaccio di Polpo (octopus carpaccio with passion fruit vinaigrette, mustard seed and "buds of lentils") was to die for, an absolute revelation. I don't like olives but the Olive All' Ascolana (fried olives stuffed with beef and pork, served with Campari mayonnaise) made even me nod in agreement.
A huge plate of artichoke ravioli with prawn and broth really tested our capacity. However it was the risotto di agnello (lamb risotto with rosemary and vegetable), so tender was the lamb and so unctuous was the rice, that I found myself cramming down way past bursting.
Service was awesome too, slow, but we had a young guy from Colombia who spoke good english and his enthusiasm for the chef's food was appetite-inspiring. Kudos to the folks whose posts steered me to this place.
Another great success was Resto, at lunch. Just simple food made with perfection to details: Sauteed prawns over mashed roasted aubergine and peanut butter; pan-searred sole with onion cream, smoked bacon and zucchinis; boneless rack of lamb en jus and mashed sweet potato. The seasoning on the shrimpm the balance of eggplant and peanut flavor, the flawless fish and lamb execution, made these fairly simple fares a great joy to consume. Good breads, and their butter comes with delicate onion flowers.
The reason we had no dessert at Resto was because we just came from tea at Arkakao. For once a proper tea service: sumptuous Taj Mahal blend and a strong English breakfast, brewed just right, decanted and served in cute heat-proof pots. They came with toast and housemade cheese cake, chocolate scone, and hazelnut white chocolate cake, all absolutely fabulous.
Lastly, a negative. Sotto Voce in Puerto Madero at lunch. I told myself I should've known better than to eat at such fashionable, touristy location, but the chowhound votes kept me hopeful. Perhaps the other location is were it's at?
The beef carpaccio was at best made with bottom sirloin, gristles and all, completely undressed, with some fake parmaggiano and not a caper in sight. Rubbery mozzerrella in my Caprese salad, echoed the tasteless cheese in the mushroom "carpaccio". Careless, cold service and expensive to boot.
Some other places to quickly mention:
Un Altra Volta (gelato) near Recoleta cemetary: meh
La Giralda: Went in search of churros, around 11am, they had none to serve
Cafe Tortoni: again, went in search of churro but they didn't serve any, wouldn't say why either; abysmal Leche Merengada
Maru Botana: cute shop, drool-worthy looking cakes, had 2, 1 was decent the other was not so great; I'll probably go back to Arkakao given the choice
Miranda: not impressed
L'Epi: beautiful bakery like a Parisian shop, first rate bread (though I only had one type), they keep their own mother that's supposed to be quite old
Mash: british curry house in San Telmo, decent food, though some people may be scared away by the squatter tenants across the street
Osteria Sagardi: expensive, but pretty good Basque food; we stayed at the Loft Sagardi so we were more inclined to eat there
Balthazar's Kitchen: tiny, beautiful, artistically decorated spot in San Telmo that I really really wanted to like, with soaring ceiling, black and white nudes on the wall, chinoise antique tables and stools, chandelier and a wooden fridge! However, both sandwiches we got were very disappointing. Maybe try their sweets and just have a sit.
Territorio Bar & Provisions: a characteristic place in San Telmo where we ordered the Tabla platter for 2, piled high with cheeses, 6 or 7 kinds of salumi, salmon and pickled squid, and 7 delicious pickled vegetables. A fine meal as a send off to airplane food.
Thymus: couldn't find it, walked back and forth on Lerma 3 times
647 Dinner Club: website says they are in business, no answer on the phone, 647 Tacuari didn't exist and next door was a autoshop; sketchy neighborhood
Sorry if I droned on too long. I have pictures if anyone wants to see.